But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:14-16
It’s all entirely a God thing. God has got something going on in our lives that we are mostly unaware of. We are the means by which God receives pleasure in the midst of the craziness of this mixed-up world. God is a major player in our lives and most of the time we are pretty oblivious to it. That’s because we have little to do with it. It goes on all the time in us, through us, and in spite of us. It does not depend on us in any way. All three manifestations of God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — have a role in this effort that uses us as receptacles of something deliciously sweet, and it’s first and foremost all for God.
The prepositions tell the whole story. We are a fragrance of Christ to God among the people we rub shoulders with in the world — the people being secondary in this case. And even though the Holy Spirit isn’t mentioned here, it is understood that Christ, who is the fragrance, is in us by way of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to indwell believers and impart to us all that Jesus taught His disciples. So Christ’s presence is still in the world in us by way of the Holy Spirit, and from that emanates a fragrance of the knowledge of Him — better than the most expensive Chanel — in us, and God smells it, and is pleased. And were that all that was happening here, it would be worth it to Him, but there is more.
This is all taking place in front of an audience — the people around us — and that audience is affected by what is going on; enough to have a reaction. Some are drawn to the fragrance of Christ; some are repelled by it. We don’t have anything to do with this either, by the way — this, too, is God’s thing — we just walk and talk with those who want to be around us.
But the reaction is strong — enough that Paul asks the study question this time: “Who is equal to such a task?” Who is capable of having this kind of influence in the world? We’re taking about being instigators of life and death reactions, and who can pull that off? Like I said, it’s a study question — Paul just wants us to think about it for now, because he doesn’t answer it until further along in his letter.
I grew up with a style of “witnessing” that put the burden of proof among unbelievers on us. We had to live exemplary lives — enough to make people want to be like us — and we had to know how to lead them to Christ; how to ask the right questions, get the topic going, seal the deal and tie the knot. Had we been studying our Bibles, we would have realized that none of that was necessary. All that is extra-curricular, evangelical, guilt-producing regulation that has no basis in scripture and certainly not here. As we said at the beginning, this is entirely a God thing. We are along for the ride, and what a ride it is!
The 21 Day Challenge
— Day Three —
It’s entirely a God thing
2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:14-16
Recap from 21 Day Challenge — Day Two
2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:12-14
Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Paul has gone to Troas from Ephesus, as he tells us here, to preach the gospel of Christ, which was his greatest delight because it was such a tremendous thing to see the power of God let loose among men as He set them free. Yet, he was unable to take advantage of the open door. He was too anxious about what was going on in Corinth. Too troubled, he had to leave.
Yet we find Paul proclaiming gratefulness for a powerful and effective ministry that stands right next to the verse in which he is confessing his failure and his weakness, his frustration and his despair.
21 Day Challenge — Day Three
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 – It’s entirely a God thing
15. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
16. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
For your consideration:
- For whom is the fragrance of Christ? Men and women and children or is the fragrance of Christ for God?
- The everyday perfume I wear goes on strong and as the day fades so does the scent. What about the fragrance of life? Does it fade? What about the fragrance of death? Can we put the fragrance of life on and then take it off?
- Can God smell the pleasing and appealing fragrance of Christ in a believer wherever he/she goes? If yes, does God smell Christ more when we are doing good works? Is the fragrance more subdue when we commit a little sin? If so, does the fragrance diminish even more when we engage in bigger and badder sins?
- Do we know if someone is in the process of being saved?
- Do we know if someone is in the process of dying? Probably not. This is because many times in our lives as Believers we have been troubled, angry or in opposition to the Lord. If anything, perhaps we might want to be more compassionate to someone who appears to be in the process of perishing. He might just be “kicking and screaming his way to Christ,” as was the case for C.S.Lewis.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that our lives do not rest upon our feeble efforts to do something for God, but on the expectation that God is doing something through us, that we can be led in triumph by Jesus Christ at the very moment of our frustration – For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
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